22 April 2011

Book 17 of 2011

This is a book I borrowed from McB that I finished shortly before the school's Friday morning meeting.

See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers

Roxanna Elden has taught all over the place in all different disciplines, from elementary to college level courses. This book takes her experiences, and the experiences of many other teachers from all different experience levels, and attempts to give the real lowdown that other teacher books fail to dole out in lieu of idealized versions of what all teachers hope to be. 

The problem with books aimed at first year teachers is that they don't look at the actual nuts and bolts of what it takes to survive that initial foray into education. All of them assume that theirs is the be-all and end-all and assume that teachers are the altruistic, happy, fun-time, sunshine folks who get dressed with the help of cartoon birds from old racist Disney movies. Following what those books offer doesn't work because the reality of the teaching profession doesn't match what first year teachers are capable of doing. If, for instance, BetterBookTitles.com were to do their version of The First Days of School, it'd be called Feel Terrible About Your Job Performance. Elden's book takes that into account.

Elden compiles practical advice for the times when the grading period has snuck up on a new teacher or how to deal with the number of bad days that will make a new teacher feel like they are the worst person to ever walk the Earth without any of the sugarcoating that makes advice like that seem backhanded. Any first year teacher will find this book invaluable thanks to the advice and entertaining anecdotes provided by other teachers. 

Seven years ago, I would have really dug this book. I wouldn't have had time to read it, but I really would have liked the idea behind it. Some of the advice would have been awesome, but who knows if I would have had the wherewithal to implement any of it. New teachers feel like they are drowning during those initial two years, and one of the points Elden makes is that new teachers have to figure out how to get better at their job by making their own slew of mistakes and modifying their approach accordingly, no matter what colleagues or mentors or witty, well-written books have to say. That's the only way they figure out how to improve. 

And...I'm not a first year teacher. So while I was glad to read this because I get to check another book off my list for the year and there was a neat series of questions that I feel like I could implement as an exit survey for my students at the end of second semester, this isn't a book that really benefits me besides the nostalgia reminiscing about those hectic first years it provides. 

No comments:

Post a Comment